There is a sad thing I fear that I am going to be now sharing with the survivors, witnesses and first responders of this past week in Boston and that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I write this to all of you.
There are many hard things I have done in my life but I count trying to explain the major disconnect; the major fear, terror and agony going on in my brain as one of the hardest. Sure, the media portrays PTSD in simplistic fashion, showing flashbacks to events that caused trauma, and that’s a very bare bones way of showing the truth of PTSD features but it’s not the whole story.
The fear, the anxiety, the horror, the everything you lived through in those moments that caused you such damaging terror can come back to haunt you in ways you least expect. They can sneak back into your world on a clear sunny day where one detail can spark your mind’s return to those moments. You’re physically operating in the here, now, today of things but your mentally operating in the fear response of those horrifying moments, reacting to situations that are now ghosts haunting your memory. Your brain does not know how to let go of that response and like an engine stuck in gear, it remains there, holding you captive in a moment you logically do not for anything in this whole world want to relive.
That is how it is for me. That is how I spent years of my life living. It took the birth of my son and reactions I had in the year after it to realize what I was even doing. It took me too long, way too long, to get help. I did not have the support I needed, in some cases because I did not know how to ask, in other cases because I believed that in all truth I was simply broken.
This is not what I want for you.
I want you to be free. I want you to face the trauma that occured, in your time and fashion, and I want to see you come through on the other side changed but strong. I want to see you supported and carried through so long as you need those shoulders to lean on. I want you to know that it is so very okay to ask for help; to ask for someone to talk it out with. You are not less of a man or woman for asking it but instead better and stronger for it.
Heal your bodies and also, heal your minds. You deserve that. Life will never be the same, or like it never happened, but it will go on, and it will get better. Tomorrow may be hard, and so may many tomorrows to come, but each can and will get easier.
And if you need someone to hold your hand or to listen to you when you’re scared in the dark of night or even if you just want a stranger who will not judge you for your fears, reactions and emotions right now… Hey. I’m here. My email is galebird(at)gmail.com.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those touched by the Boston Marathon bombings, the explosion in West, Texas, and the other tragedies that unfold around the world.